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Cheers to a contented cow club

Darrel Timm doesn’t feed his cattle in the evening any more — their mooing kept him awake all night.

Darrel Timm doesn’t feed his cattle in the evening any more — their mooing kept him awake all night.

That’s because their feed is laced with red wine — a litre a day each — which has made for some very happy cattle.

B.C. farmers Timm and his sister Janice Ravndahl are also pretty happy with the enthusiastic response of chefs and specialty stores to their Sezmu Meats.

Riley Bennett, chef at Mission Hill Winery’s Terrace Restaurant near Kelowna, B.C., says their $24 short ribs and $27 striploins are very popular with patrons, who exclaim over the dark red colour of the meat and its taste.

“The flavour is out there, second to none,” says Bennett. “It tastes like real beef but more rich in the mouthful.”

He is delighted to have the heavily marbled meat on his menu because it is a local success story which delights the diners.

“They are blown away that it is raised only 50 miles from the winery. It’s the talk of the town.”

Bennett, who is angling to have Mission Hill’s red wines fed to the next crop of cattle, says the five-month experiment has shown him “it is one of those things that is going to be around a long time.”

After a number of trials, they felt 90 days of wine drinking produced the greatest impact on meat flavour, says Ravndahl. After that, the cost of the wine starts making the price of the meat prohibitive. For example, a Sezmu Meats rib-eye sells for $35 a kilogram. In the early days, they made their own wine to help defray costs but found it too time consuming.

Now they source the wine, a Cabernet blend, from a variety of wineries near their Kelowna farm.

Although she has since heard of wine-fed beef in Australia, Ravndahl believes she is the only farmer in North America to do the same.

 
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